[Updated] “Dental insurance coverage for Government employees has been suspended because the Government has failed to pay the premium for their coverage,” Shadow Minister of Health Senator Michael Dunkley said last night [July 8].
The Finance Ministry refuted the statement, saying “to date we have received no enquiries or been advised of concerns from civil servants on this matter.”
Senator Dunkley said: “The suspension was made by the insurer for the dental portion of the Government Employees Health Insurance plan after Government fell in arrears on premium payments to the insurer.
“The portal used to provide dentists with patient insurance coverage information shows the status of GEHI patients as “Inactive – Customer must contact their employer.”
“The ‘inactive’ status means that Government employees’ coverage has been suspended even though they’ve paid their portion of the premium through automatic deductions from their paycheques. Under the terms of GEHI, premium payments for employees are handled by the Government, as their employer.
Senator Dunkley continued: ”The Government’s failure to pay is one more real-life example of its failure to take care of the public purse, something that is affecting the lives of more and more Bermudians. Businesses are increasingly reluctant to do business with the Government because it is so late in paying its bills. Now, its own employees are paying the price.
“This amounts to a betrayal of the working trust that is supposed to exist between employer and employee, and makes the Government a hypocrite for wanting to ‘name and shame’ employers for failure to make employment tax and social insurance payments.
“The suspension occurs just weeks before the Government’s new policy forcing medical practitioners to no longer ask patients for upfront payments and to rely totally on timely payments from insurers – a plan the dental community expressed concern for given GEHI’s long history of late payments.
“The Government must step forward immediately to explain why it is not honoring its responsibility to its employees to maintain their GEHI dental coverage and what it is doing to rectify this matter immediately,” concluded Senator Dunkley.
A Ministry of Finance spokesperson responded to the Senator’s statement saying, “It is extraordinary the comment released to the public in relation to dental coverage for Government employees.
“The public should be aware that to ensure consistency and efficiency in payment processing of dental claims, an insurer was selected a few years ago to administer Government’s dental insurance programme.
“During this time the insurer and Government have had a respectable relationship and it would be extraordinary that dental coverage has been discontinued with no communication with the Government of Bermuda.
“That does not accord with our records. Also to date we have received no enquiries or been advised of concerns from civil servants on this matter.
“In ensuring that G.E.H.I. is compliant with the Upfront Payments Legislation that takes effect on August 1st, 2012, their focus is on tightening their processes, and clearing up any backlog. As such all payments will be made within the legislated thirty day time frame going forward.”
Update 11.24am: This morning the Ministry of Finance released a statement addressing what they called “concerns stemming from the rumoured suspension of Government’s dental coverage.”
The Ministry of Finance said they are moving to “reassure government employees covered by the insurance plan that coverage has not been suspended nor cancelled,” and also refuted any commentary to the contrary – calling it “regrettable and baseless”.
- Dental Coverage Row Heats Up In The Senate
- Parliamentarians Spar In “Dentalgate” Debate
- Fitch Downgrades Bermuda, Outlook Negative
- Senator Dunkley On 2011 BHB Annual Report
- Video: Minister Minors On Job Creation
- PLP Calls For Apology, OBA Says There Is No Need